Oklahoma authorities approved the first faith-based charter school in the country, as supporters of the decision believe it will hold up in the face of expected legal challenges.
The Oklahoma State School Board on Monday voted 3-2 to approve an application by the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City to establish the St. Isidore of Seville Virtual Catholic Charter School as an online public charter school.
Brett Farley, the executive director of the Catholic Conference of Oklahoma, spoke with "Fox & Friends First" Wednesday about the move.
"What we're trying to achieve here is to deliver more options to kids, largely in the rural areas of our state, that are stuck with one option. And most often those options are just inadequate," Farley told "Fox & Friends First" co-host Carley Shimkus.
"We have a great need in that area, also in the special needs area where kids just need more specialized education and options are the name of the game. And so we've been about this as a Catholic Church for 500 years. We want to continue to expand those options to those kids that need it."
Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond (R) said that public funding for the school is an issue, per a public statement his office released.
"The approval of any publicly funded religious school is contrary to Oklahoma law and not in the best interest of taxpayers," Drummond said. "It’s extremely disappointing that board members violated their oath in order to fund religious schools with our tax dollars. In doing so, these members have exposed themselves and the State to potential legal action that could be costly."
Farley pushed back saying that Drummond is "at odds with Supreme Court precedent."
"The U.S. Supreme Court has said now three times in the last six years that a state does not need to fund private schools. But if they choose to do so, they cannot discriminate against religious institutions … they've been emphatic about that. So we're relying on Supreme Court precedent here."
Although Drummond opposes the measure, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt supports the move.
In an interview with Fox News Digital last month, Stitt said the state's new school choice law allows students to pursue their "God-given talents" at any school in the state.
"Now every single parent, regardless of zip code, can take their kid to the school of their choice, and they're going to get a tax credit, a refundable tax credit to go to a Christian school, a private school, a charter school, wherever they want," Stitt said.
Stitt signed into law a legislative package that included tax credits for families with children in private schools as well as additional funding for rural schools and raises for teachers. The tax credits range from $5,000 to $7,500 per student depending on household income.
"God gave kids to parents, not to the government," Stitt told Fox News. "So let's put them in charge of where they go."